Nets Start Fast, Hold Off Francis, Knicks
New Jersey 94, New York 90
NEW YORK, Feb. 24 (Ticker) -- The combined effort of Richard Jefferson, Vince Carter and Nenad Krstic spoiled Steve Francis' debut.
Jefferson and Carter combined for 53 points and Krstic made all 11 shots for 23 points as the New Jersey Nets cruised to a 94-90 victory over the New York Knicks, who have lost six straight in the series.
"It was pretty interesting," Francis said. "I haven't been able to practice. Hopefully with time, things can get better. I have never been traded in the middle of the season. I think I did a decent job, but it is tough going out there against a good team like New Jersey.
"Guys missed shots. We had open shots. Coach told me that I was nervous and had to chill out. I was just trying to help my team win. I felt like a new player who was basically thrown into the game with little experience."
New Jersey scored the first 10 points and, after two New York baskets, added an 8-0 spurt capped by Krstic's dunk for a 20-4 advantage with 5:03 remaining in the first quarter.
"We didn't have Steve Francis with us in practice, and that's going to impact us," New York coach Larry Brown said. "We missed a lot of good shots. We had a bad beginning and a horrible third quarter."
The Knicks crept within four in the second period, but the Nets held a nine-point lead at the break. Jefferson netted nine straight Nets points in the third quarter to help New Jersey maintain its comfortable cushion.
The Nets took a 73-55 lead into the fourth and it swelled to 21 points before the Knicks used an 11-0 run to get within 77-67 with 8:39 remaining.
But Krstic eliminated any chance New York had of getting back into it as he scored eight straight New Jersey points for an 85-70 lead with 5:39 left. In a span of just over three minutes, Krstic knocked down three mid-range jumpers and teamed with Jason Kidd for an alley-oop dunk.
"We had a stretch where we ran it through him five or six times in a row," Kidd said. "And that's just the confidence we have in him. He can step out and knock down a jump shot or he can put the ball on the floor."
The 7-foot center capped his perfect performance with a 14-foot jumper for a 92-77 advantage with 2:40 left.
"It feels good," Krstic said. "I like to play in this arena. I felt great today. I was just having fun."
"His confidence just grew and grew as the game wore on," said Carter, who scored 26 points. "It was great to see. He was phenomenal tonight."
Krstic fell two points shy of his season high and five short of his career set last April vs. Orlando. He joined Jefferson as the second Net to have a perfect shooting night against the Knicks this season.
"It's hard to do that (shoot 11-of-11)," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "He had a real good night. Guys were playing through him."
"He was unbelievable tonight," said Jefferson, who scored 27 points. "I was screaming before he even released the ball. Some of the shots, he started laughing. He'd catch and turn around and start shooting and I'd start laughing. He was making every shot."
Jefferson made 9-of-15 shots, grabbed eight rebounds and handed out six assists. Carter hit four 3-pointers and Jason Kidd dished out nine assists.
Rookie Channing Frye scored 20 points to lead the Knicks and Jalen Rose added 18 off the bench. In his second game back from a shoulder injury, Stephon Marbury connected on just 2-of-9 shots and finished with six points.
"I just have to get my rhythm back," Marbury said. "I am not in rhythm right now. I had some great looks. It just didn't go down."